Mainstream media covers online schooling and the pandemic, but often fails to go into depth about the people living it. What about how it affects someone’s everyday life? Or their health? Or their personal interactions?
In this story we go into the lives of Holly Laney, Erica Strand, Julianne Tandberg, and Dr. Justin Harmon to find out just that. Discussing everything from their mental health to their social lives, the SOU community has varying successes continuing with this new normal.
Starting college, returning for another year, and teaching are not easy, but what is it like adding a pandemic to the normal hardships of college life? Laney, a sophomore and theater major at SOU, described starting her sophomore year in a pandemic as weird and hard. While Strand, an SOU freshman studying as a theater arts major stated that it’s, “Very stressful but I’m getting through and it was really nice that I was able to move into the dorms.” On the other hand, Tandberg, an art major and freshman at University of Colorado Boulder said that it was easier and was, “doing the same thing as I was for the past few months”, in reference to high school.
Additionally, mental and physical health is often forgotten in times like these, despite the importance. Having poor health in both areas can affect work quality and how you operate during your everyday routines. According to Dr. Rajgopal Thirumalai, “Work-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health, poor productivity and human error.” Keeping that fact in mind, how does taking fifteen credits or more affect a student’s health?
“Well, as far as physical health goes it’s been a little hard to get outside sometimes that’s why I take dance classes. As far as mental health goes, eh, it’s a little harder because I can’t interact with people quite as much so social interaction is down and that sometimes makes my mental health plummet but it hasn’t been too bad because I have the ability to go off campus.” Laney said.
Strand shared similar thoughts and feelings, “[I] lost a lot of my senior year which was really hard as well as mixing that with moving away from home for the first time in my life. It hit kind of hard but it’s definitely taught me to create my own coping mechanisms.”
Lastly, what does a social life look like during COVID-19? And what exactly is the difference between a student and professor? For a professor it’s being on call twenty four seven. Dr. Harmon, instructor of philosophy at SOU, said “I feel like I’m always on the clock, so I don’t have any free time. Like, it could be 9pm on a Saturday and I’m responding to students emails or grading discussion forums.” While his counterpart, a student, depicts it differently. “Not great… I have to go see people, people can’t come see me when they live off campus or a different dorm hall,” Laney said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the world. Closing the scope to individual lives brings a personal look on what is now average for many university students nationwide. How their lives have been transformed and the course of their 2020 year changed. From their last moments of high school to their first moments of college. Or returning for what was and will be a different year from the one before.